James Heckman Nobel Winning Economist Why Preschool is best job training program NPR Pragmatic Mom PragmaticMom

Preschool is Best Job Training Program

Preschool is Best Job Training Says Nobel Economist

When Nobel-winning economist James Heckman studied the effects of job training, he found a curious thing. The job training most effective in getting people jobs is something they learned (or not!) in preschool!

James Heckman Nobel Winning Economist Why Preschool is best job training program NPR Pragmatic Mom PragmaticMom

This is what children do in preschool, “They play, they paint, they build with blocks, and they nap.”

This is what it teaches them, “how to resolve conflicts, how to share, how to negotiate, how to talk things out. These are skills that they need to make it through a day of preschool now. And they are skills they will need to make it through a day of work when they’re 30.” These are the soft skills that turn out to be of paramount importance in getting and keeping a job and, as it turns out, you don’t get them in college, high school or even elementary school. The crucial time period to acquire these skills turns out to be in preschool!

“If they learn these skills now, they’ll have them for the rest of their lives. But research shows that if they don’t learn them now, it becomes harder and harder as they get older. By the time the time they’re in a job training program in their twenties, it’s often too late.” NPR 

You can listen to the story here. It is NPR after all!! The full article is also here.

I find this research mind-blowing. What do you think? I mean, it makes sense to me, but what about the children who can’t afford preschool?


By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. He’s talking about the THINGS they learn in preschool. Not that you have to attend preschool to learn them. Spoken as a mother of 3 who homeschools. Trust me: Pre-K attendance does NOT determine if you know how to do any of the above.

    • To Tracey,
      Yes, I agree with you. Being in preschool per se is not the important thing, it is absolutely learning those skills which can certainly be done at home by parents and/or during play dates. Home schooling has the advantage of personalized attention which, I would think, ensures that these kind of social and emotion goals are met (as well as academic ones).

  2. dxb_lite

    I disagree with this my son who didnt go to preschool, but just went to a toddler club twice a week instead,and was home schooled till 6 years old, has very good negotiation skills, whereas my son who did attend preschool is not so good at these skills yet, they are 14 and 12 respectively.

    • To Dxb_Lite,
      I think the research is using the term “preschool” as a catch all for exposing kids to socialization that includes those soft skills. It’s not necessarily preschool that teaches this; it’s the social situations. Vigilant moms can do this without preschool; I totally agree with that!

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